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[ G.R. No. 136018. February 1, 1999]

JOSE SENICA, et al. vs. CA, et al.

FIRST DIVISION

Gentlemen:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated FEB 1, 1999.

G.R. No. 136018 (Jose Senica, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et al.)

Petitioners assail the decision of the Court of Appeals reversing the decision of the regional trial court, thus declaring private respondents builders in good faith.

Petitioners are the registered owners of a 327-square meter lot, while private respondents are the owners of a 289-square meter lot. These two parcels of lot, almost identical in shape, are along two adjacent streets, Magnolia St. and Gardenia St., respectively, immediately parallel to one another.

The present controversy started when private respondents constructed their house on a lot of petitioners after the administrator of the homeowners association where the two pieces of property are located, mistakenly identified petitioners' lot as that of private respondents.

With this development, private respondents offered petitioners a property swap, with payment of the difference in land area, but no agreement was reached.

Consequently, petitioners filed an action for recovery of possession praying that private respondents be ordered to demolish and remove all construction on the subject land.

The trial court decided in favor of petitioners.

Displeased, private respondents appealed. In reversing the trial court's decision, the Court of Appeals applied the case of Pleasantville Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals (253 SCRA 10 [1996]) and quoted this Court, to wit:

The roots of the controversy can be traced directly to the errors committed by CTTEI, when it pointed the wrong property to Wilson Kee and his wife. It is highly improbable that a purchaser of a lot would knowingly and willingly build his residence on a lot owned by another, deliberately exposing himself and his family to the risk of being ejected from the land and losing all improvements thereon, not to mention the social humiliation that would follow (underscoring ours).

Under the circumstances, Kee had acted in the manner of a prudent man in ascertaining the identity of his property. Lot 8 is covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-69561, while Lot 9 is identified in Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-106367. Hence, under the Torrens system of land registration, Kee is presumed to have knowledge of the metes and bounds of the property with which he is dealing. x x x (p. 30, Rollo).

Thus, the instant petition which we find unavailing.

Article 448 of the Civil Code governing builders in good faith provides:

The owner of the land on which anything has been built, sown or planted in good faith, shall have the right to appropriate as his own the works, sowing or planting, after payment of the indemnity provided for in Articles 546 and 548, or to oblige the one who built or planted to pay the price of the land, and the one who sowed, the proper rent. However, the builder or planter cannot be obliged to buy the land if its value is considerably more than that of the building or trees. In such case, he shall pay reasonable rent, if the owner of the land does not choose to appropriate the building or trees after proper indemnity. The parties shall agree upon the terms of the lease and in case of disagreement, the court shall fix the terms thereof. (p. 32-33, Rollo)

Accordingly petitioners' rights against private respondents do not include the right to demand the demolition of the thing built without indemnity. The Court, therefore, finds no error committed by the Court of Appeals.

WHEREFORE, petition is denied.

Very truly yours,

(Sgd.) VIRGINIA ANCHETA-SORIANO

Clerk of Court


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